I am writing a series of short journal entries – snippets of a larger story – and aligning them with k12 education, in general, and #stem education specifically. As humans, we are storytellers. Some of us like telling stories; others like listening to them. We read books, watch movies, go to the theatre, and interact with others in role-playing games. It is this last item on the list that I will focus on today.
I write this with a great deal of hesitation. This is the type of hesitation that causes you to look over your shoulder every so often or jump at the slightest sound. I tell this story so that all of you can be informed of the truth – you are not alone (even when you think you are!). This short story comes with a backstory, of course. So, please allow me to set the scene.
As some of you already know, I integrate story with #stem education. I believe that one does not exist without the other. More readily, #stem education is greatly supported within the context of the story. Additionally, some of you may also know that I favor the fantasy story, mostly in the genre of dungeons and dragons. However, this time, the story crosses over to the psychological horror genre, but not of my doing. The story came to me as an actual event! What I am about to tell you was real! Very real!
You have been warned!
Stuck . . . must go back.
“Don’t touch it.” This was the hushed sentiment of the group that now huddled before the spider’s web. The leader looked back. The darkness hid his frustration. If this was a trap, he was not inclined to set it off. All but the one closest to the web took a few steps back to examine the situation from a distance. They stood quietly yet made attempts at touching the walls to either side. Lifting their torches high into the air, they looked for movement above them. Nothing. All was quiet and still. The sound of silence was not comforting. They would rather deal with a known target than deal with some unknown, and unseen, nuisance.
Initially, they gave themselves a day. One day in the Abyss was all they could warrant to find their esteemed friend. He was last seen three days prior, so their hopes of actually finding their friend was dismal to begin with. Still, he was missing. That made everyone suspicious of some sort of foul play. It was not like him to wander off. He just disappeared. His room at the inn was as he left it. There was no sign of a struggle. There was no note indicating he was going off somewhere. And no ransom note indicating a reward for his return.
He was just gone.
Odd . . . indeed.
One by one, in single file, the six adventurers traversed the rock down into the unknown. With a pack barely equipped with enough supplies for a few days, the members of the group went down into the dark. Not truly knowing the danger, the adventurers carried only a short sword by their side, and a bow hung over their pack. Feeling their way forward, and many feet downward, they climbed carefully. With a torch in one hand, and a glimpse of hope, or luck as some would say, they ventured on. Eventually, they took foothold on level ground. Looking up, Smith’s Crack was barely a sliver of open space above. In the darkness, they could not measure how deep into the ground they were. Their only thought was to find their friend and get out alive. There was no map of this place – only legends. And the legends were spoken only in whispers by travelers in taverns in faraway places.
Stories teach us all types of lessons. I often hear myself saying, “When I was your age . . .” to my daughter only to realize that my mom said the same thing to me. In our attempts to communicate information to others, we wrap the context inside a narrative. All cultures have some type of oral storytelling – tradition, heritage, culture – are all passed down from generation to generation. Whether we are found sitting around the dinner table or the campfire, the idea of telling, and listening to, a story is all around us. In modern times, we have – to some degree – forsaken the tradition of oral storytelling and exchanged that pastime for movie watching (deep sigh). Still, the idea is the same. The narrative gives us courage, wisdom, and moral lessons learned – and thus shared with others – to inspire, strengthen, and encourage a new generation of people.
The idea of a story has been around since the beginning of human history. However, starting a story is no easy task. Although we have some old reliable starts, many of us find it difficult to use them with our own storytelling. Can they be used to tell a good story? I guess that is a matter of opinion, but a few good starting points include:
“In the beginning . . .”
“Once upon a time . . .”
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times . . .”
“If you really want to hear about it . . .”
Previously, I showed you what the Dragon Cave looks like with an animated .gif! Let’s go back in time to build the set, step by step. My daughter and I will take you through a 7-part series of how we created the cave, the dragon, and animated the set with two Raspberry Pi computers.